Date posted : December 24. 2012
The Lamborghini V8 adventure was far from over with the Urraco P300 and P200 ... the very best was still to come ... by 1975 Automobili Ferruccio Lamborghini SpA wasn’t at its best, the Urraco development and final production of this totally new V8 model drained a lot of funds from both Ferruccio himself and the company, and sales weren’t compensating the vast investment, not even after the improved P300 was introduced.
To make things even worse, the factory was in no position to consider replacing the Urraco at that time. Ferruccio was still convinced a more mainstream model could be a success and make the company more money than the exotic V12 super cars, so he asked Bertone to redesign the Urraco P300 into a different looking car that would boost sales to a level that would finally create some decent return on the massive investment made into the V8 adventure.
Bertone prepared a first prototype for an Urraco successor, it featured round wheel arch extensions and a modified rear window, further development of this initial concept led to the very special Lamborghini Silhouette that was shown to the public during the 1976 Geneva Auto Show.
This restyled model still clearly showed its Urraco origins, but took the original design several years into the future. The Silhouette would become the first production Lamborghini featuring a removable roof section creating a convertible model.
One downturn on this configuration would be the necessary removal of the rear seats found in the Urraco, somehow I don’t think many Urraco owners actually had people sitting on these tiny seats anyway, still the Lamborghini Silhouette became a true two-seater with a nice space to store the roof section behind the two remaining seats.
While the Urraco had some plastic seats with a cloth upholstery the Silhouette received magnificent new bucket seats, much more in style with the aggressive exterior … standard cloth was still used, but with a beautiful vertical stripe in the middle of the seat and back rest … leather did become an option on the Silhouette, which makes much more sense in a convertible car anyway. Imagine being caught in some heavy rain with a cloth interior … could be a problem if you didn’t bring those beach towels with you.
An impressive deep front spoiler with similar styled, squared-off wheel arch extensions were needed to cover the innovative telephone dial wheels shod with state of the art Pirelli P7 tires, 285 mm wide at the rear. Wheel size increased from the original 14 inch to a larger 15-inch, while overall width on these rims went up to 11 inch at the rear, naturally the entire suspension geometry was modified to keep those 285 mm of Italian rubber as flat as possible on the road and maintain full traction on those wide rear wheels at all times.
The Miura inspired engine cover design from the Urraco was lost during the redesign, and a new tunnel back was introduced incorporating a roll over cage to comply with safety regulations for open top cars.
The interior was modified into a more ergonomic style with a new dashboard slightly angled towards the driver, the engine was derived from the Urraco P300 but got pushed up to 265 Bhp which meant the added weight from the substantial modifications required on the chassis to go roof-less didn’t mean the Silhouette would stay behind the Urraco P300 on the open road.
This should have made the idea of open-top driving a true Lamborghini very appealing to potential buyers, but the Silhouette couldn’t fulfill its high hopes, still suffering from a rather bad financial state, Automobili Ferruccio Lamborghini SpA couldn’t convince customers to buy the Silhouette, even worse was the fact the company was unable to certify the Silhouette for sale in the United States, possibly the biggest market for this kind of Lamborghini. Note that from 1977 until 1982 not a single Lamborghini was officially imported into the United States apart from some grey-market cars.
The amazing Lamborghini Silhouette was kept in production for a only two years, production totaling at no more than 52 units from which only 27 to 31 are believed to have survived today, so the Silhouette is still a very rare car, and obtaining one could become a rather costly adventure today, just like the entire V8 experience was to the late Ferruccio back in the Seventies.
However the final chapter was still to be written on the Lamborghini V8 story ... it did took the Raging Bull another two years of development after Urraco and Silhouette production was halted in 1979, in 1981 the final incarnation of the V8 line up was shown at Geneva ... the Lamborghini Jalpa … in the end this final V8 model would show some decent production numbers outselling all its predecessors several times over.
Text © Mark Smeyers - www.lambocars.com
Printed from www.lambocars.com/v8_engine/silhouette_p300.html on December 6. 2013